Liu Jing (b. 1983)
Master Series No. 2: Lu Xun
Woodblock and digital lithographic print
90 x 60 cm
Liu Jing’s images of cultural masters are misty, mysterious and haunting. He insists that he is a printmaker, not an artist. Liu revels in his choice of techniques, uninterested in labels like ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary.’ He says, “Instead of trying to be a pioneer in the art world, I am more willing to get a block, take a knife, and easily sift a pile of sawdust. Or grind the stone, adjust some of the ink, and casually create some texture.”
Muban Educational Trust registration number liujv001
Gu Qun (b. 1928)
Celebrating the Founding of the People’s Republic of China
19 x 28 cm
There were comparatively few female artists in the communist-controlled ‘liberated areas’ in the 1940s. In printmaking, Gu Qun specialised in nianhua (New Year pictures). Folk-art styles were particularly effective for propaganda in revolutionary and wartime China. This highly detailed woodblock print celebrates the founding of the PRC on 1 October 1949, illustrating the masses’ genuinely enthusiastic welcome to the new leadership and to the end of the Civil War (1946-49). Gu Qun also worked in stained glass and ceramics.
Muban Educational Trust registration number guvqv001
Zhu Minggang (1915-2013)
Nothing is Too Difficult in the World
31 x 22 cm
Zhu Minggang made black-and-white prints and taught art in 1940s China and Taiwan. This work shows the optimistic outlook of the PRC’s early years. A worker learns to play the saxophone: nothing is too difficult. Certainly it is propaganda, but not explicitly political, which was unusual at the time. Little is known about his art or teaching in the 1960s-70s, but Zhu returned to work after the Cultural Revolution. From the 1980s, he painted landscapes and other nature subjects.
Muban Educational Trust registration number zhumg005
Lin Ling (1918-2007)
Celebrating the Abundant Harvest
17 x 26 cm
Lin Ling is less well known than many of his contemporaries, perhaps because he spent his artistic career in the military, serving in both creative and administrative roles. In the late 1930s and 40s, he produced propaganda for the Resistance against Japan, but also depicted the hardships of rural workers. This print celebrates agricultural abundance, in the style known as ‘Revolutionary Romanticism.” The huge flowers and vegetables belie the disastrous agricultural situation of the Great Leap Forward (1958-62).
Muban Educational Trust registration number linlv005
Wu Fan (1923-2015)
40 x 31 cm
Wu Fan studied both oil painting and guohua (national painting, using ink and brush) before turning to printmaking. Dandelion demonstrates his painterly style and mastery of traditional shuiyin techniques employing water-soluble colours. The print has no political content, which was very unusual for its time. With its universal appeal, spare design and tranquil air, Dandelion was an international prize winner. However, during the Cultural Revolution, it was singled out for symbolizing pacifism, surrender and revisionism, and so was destroyed.
Muban Educational Trust registration number wuvfv007
Feng Zhongtie (1917-99)
It’s a Fine View from this Side
68 x 53 cm
Feng Zhongtie taught himself to make prints in the 1930s in Shanghai. He spent most of his career thereafter in his native Sichuan province. His work is immediately recognisable: meticulously detailed industrial, architectural and landscape features, all fitted within complex, balanced compositions. This print, made right at the end of the Cultural Revolution, carried the prescribed message of progress and economic order. In fact, the economy was then in a terrible condition, but new policy directions led to rapid recovery.
Muban Educational Trust registration number fenzt002
Zhang Huaijiang (1917-99)
A Trip Along the Lan River
21 x 15 cm
Zhang Huaijiang was a highly skilled illustrator, whether portraying individual characters (nos. 14-17) or scenic vignettes from life. Here he tells a wordless ‘story’ of daily activities in a riverside village. The message is an optimistic one: electricity pylons, tractors, factories and the rising sun are all symbols of progress in New China. He often used traditional seal-cutting techniques to create his designs and patterns. Although best known for his black-and-white woodcuts, Zhang also designed colourful propaganda posters.
Muban Educational Trust registration number zhahj104-023
Master of the Poem
44 x 91 cm
We have no biographical or professional information about Li Chengming. This may imply that he was an ‘amateur’ artist in his work unit during the latter part of the Cultural Revolution. The print is in the style of the early-mid 1970s: no longer bombastic nor menacing, as in the late 1960s; optimistic and heroic, but not always explicitly political. Many prints and posters of these years celebrated the daily activities of workers, peasants and soldiers, working or at leisure.
Muban Educational Trust registration number livcm001
The Evening of the Festival Day
35 x 89 cm
Liao Youkai was a self-taught artist. In 1958 the People’s Liberation Army Cultural Group sent him to the Great Northern Wilderness (Beidahuang), a huge tract of uncultivated land in Heilongjiang. There he worked on a newspaper for farmers and labourers, later joining the Bohai Oil Company as Head of the Art Group (most large work units had one). Liao specialised in panoramic prints. This large, colourful celebratory scene is in the heroic style of the later years of the Cultural Revolution.
Muban Educational Trust registration number liayk005
Shen Roujian (1919-98)
39 x 53 cm
Shen Roujian created woodcuts, lithographs and paintings in oils and watercolours. His themes ranged from the political, as here, to simple village scenery (no. 85), flowers and animals in nature. October Victory is highly detailed, with complex colour effects. The composition makes several calls on one’s attention: the many dancing figures, grand architectural designs, signs and celebratory fireworks. Colour, light, shading, reflection—almost too much in a single image.
Muban Educational Trust registration number sherj040
Shen Roujian (1919-98)
50 x 61 cm
This lovely village scene looks more like a painting than a print. Unusually, it was printed with both water-soluble and oil-bound colours. The feeling is impressionistic, but individual details are remarkably realistic, notably the markings on the walls. From 1949, Shen Roujian’s propaganda images celebrated architectural projects and industrial construction in the new People’s Republic. After the Cultural Revolution, however, his creations were rarely political: traditional bird and flower subjects dominate the later works, usually as paintings in watercolour.
Muban Educational Trust registration number sherj010
Zhang Jiarui (b.1934)
Wonders of Dalian: No. 3, Dockyard; No.4, Oil Refinery; No. 5, Fishing Port
54 x 27 cm, 54 x 29 cm, 53 x 27 cm
Dalian is a major port city in Liaoning province, northwest China (earlier also known as Port Arthur). This series of seven linked prints depicts industrial and construction sites in the port. The artist uses simple angular lines to create silhouetted images and reflections. He also effectively incorporates the strong grain of the woodblocks to represent the rippling surface of the water and the cloudy sky. The coloured backgrounds indicate different times of day, in sequence from dawn to night-time.
Muban Educational Trust registration number zhajr043,044,045
Yang Keyang (1914-2010)
46 x 43 cm
In the 1980s, Yang Keyang used geometry and colour to illustrate the changing face of urban China. Unlike no. 60, which shows new constructions and racing traffic, this print shows a traditional sight: clothes drying on poles outside people’s apartment windows. The mosaic of colour is new here: until the mid-1970s, people’s clothes were uniformly drab. After the Cultural Revolution, colours and style choices re-appeared, bringing interest and liveliness even to such a mundane subject as drying laundry.
Muban Educational Trust registration number yanky008
Xu Zhongou (b. 1952)
89 x 50 cm
Xu creates large—sometimes vast-- complex scenes, with balanced compositions of village life and progress. The traditional fishermen’s boats in the foreground are offset by a bus, a lorry and bicycles in the distance. Some works take years to complete, given the extraordinary precision and detail involved in cutting the blocks. The different registers provide perspective and clarity of features within the patchwork of shapes, patterns and motifs. Xu has lived, taught and exhibited overseas, winning Chinese and international prizes.
Muban Educational Trust registration number xuvzo001
Pan Min (b. 1950)
Kazakh Woman Making Milk Tea
Woodblock print45 x 48 cm
While China recognizes 56 ethnic groups, the Han nationality constitutes more than 90% of the population. Kazakhs comprise only about one-tenth of one percent, living mostly in Xinjiang, Gansu and Qinghai provinces. They are a nomadic people, raising herds of cattle and sheep. In the early 1980s, artists took a new interest in regional cultural elements, and the Kazakhs’ exotic clothes and customs provided stimulating imagery. This woman is making milk tea, in preparation for a large gathering.
Muban Educational Trust registration number panmv001
He Kun (b. 1962)
The Red Sky
45 x 60 cm
The ‘Yunnan School’ developed in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, along with an interest in rustic habitats and local cultural features. The artists of this home-grown style are influenced by Buddhist cave paintings, tribal textiles and the colourful tattoo traditions of the region’s minority groups. He Kun’s prints are easily recognized by their vivid colours, stylized forms and complex textile patterns. The Red Sky was made using the waste-block technique, cutting and printing successive colours from a single block.
Muban Educational Trust registration number hevkv005